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After Car2Go eased its background checks, 75 vehicles were stolen in one day (bloomberg.com)
339 points by throwaway3627 on July 15, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 226 comments

This is interesting because I always thought these "background checks" were just a formality. Like something needed for their insurance or to weed out a few extreme individuals (like those with multiple-DUIs or a heavy history of wrecks on their record).

But the fact that they can ease up on background checks and see an immediate large bulk of car thefts is damning evidence that the background checks were truly having a real impact on preventing theft. It really is fascinating.

That sort of implies that there was some river of theft intent that they were keeping dammed up.

Which, could be the case, or it could be that announcing the policy change was the equivalent of announcing your upcoming month-long backpacking tour on Facebook after posting your address and photos of most of your valuables.

(It might be less declaring open season on theft, than a perceived increase in vulnerability triggering a surge in attempts to exploit it, more of which succeed than usual due to some actual increase in the odds of successful theft, complicated by the additional security risk posed by the confusion associated with a major policy change.)

You'd really need to dig into the surrounding data to find out which model is valid and in what proportions.

There are probably discussion sites not dissimilar to this one where people who are into stolen credit cards and the like hang out to swap notes. It would only really take one person to post - hey check out this new thing - for a few to try it. I was a victim of a vaguely similar thing - having a squatter in my flat in Spain which went from something that didn't really happen to loads of them all of a sudden because someone put up a how to guide on the internet.

It’s probably a little of both. Remember Nextel? For a long time push to talk wasn’t interceptable by the police.

Nextel didn’t seek out street drug dealing networks as a customer base. But the cops figured out that they weren’t traceable and had great loud speaker phones, started buying them, word got out and suddenly you have a market.

> about 20 people who went on to orchestrate the Mercedes thefts set up some 80 phony accounts in Chicago, using fake or stolen credit cards as their payment methods.

It's not as much the background checks preventing the thefts as the basic identity checks. Even people with some criminal background would find themselves disincentivized to steal/vandalize the car knowing their identity is linked to it. But someone who goes out of their way to create a fake identity and become untraceable, known criminal or not, has no such disincentive.

The "background checks" were probably excluding a lot of low-hanging fruit, like attempts at creating accounts in fake names with stolen credit card details.

Hell, a background check will pull up people with earlier criminal convictions (which, given our prison systems generation of recidivism is probably an unfair filter but one that rules out a lot of people in organized crime)

Isn't recidivism the kind of filter that causes people to become recidivist, though?

Absolutely. It’s one of the reasons that the school-to-prison pipeline is so profitable for private business. The younger you put the “Mark of Cain” on a citizen, the sooner they become a revenue opportunity.

I am doubting this data points. AirBnB has virtually no background checks and people are not robbing away houses en mass. Why AirBnB has such a different track record vs Car2Go?

As a renter, you have to provide several verifications (email, linkedin, google, phone number). I think you can get away with a single one. Sometimes, you'll be asked to provide a driver's license or passport for proof.

80% of the rentals I've been in weren't their primary home, so even if someone was to rob the place, there wasn't much to take. The most valuable thing would probably be the TV, but most places only had a 32-40" tv which goes for a few hundred bucks new.

While people aren't robbing Airbnb homes, there are several cases where they are getting completely destroyed.

Plus it doesn't really make sense to pay $150 a night to steal a $150 tv either.

Especially when you have announced who you were and provided contact details before you stole the TV. Maybe the theft just isn't worth it at that point.

If I want to steal a TV, it would actually be better to rob my neighbor's house when they are away. They will never know it is me, and I don't have to pay them for access to their house.

I highly doubt if car2go renter provides less personal information than AirBnB renter. I also think it would be easier for bad actors to get away for AirBnB robbery by simply claiming that missing items didn’t existed. In many places, in fact house owners would have little recourse because they are conducting hotel business without commercial license to start with. From economics perspective, it is absolutely amazing that AirBnB hasn’t became a gold mine for the professional thieves. We should investigate and understand these forces better and reuse them in other gig economy scenarios.

> I highly doubt if car2go renter provides less personal information than AirBnB renter.

The article is pretty clear about theses instances happening when they deactivated their background check. They may still provide more, but if they aren't check, it's meaningless.

> I also think it would be easier for bad actors to get away for AirBnB robbery by simply claiming that missing items didn’t existed.

Sure easier, but as the comment you were responding to said, theses aren't primary home, they doesn't contains much things that are worth stealing. Sure the renter will be able to claim he isn't guilty, but at the end of the day, if it takes you a day and cost you 100$ to steal 120$, it's not worth it.

> From economics perspective, it is absolutely amazing that AirBnB hasn’t became a gold mine for the professional thieves.

It's more like a coal mine, sure there's money to be made, but you can't always make them profitable.

I just signed up on HomeAway, which I think is owned by VRBO. There was no background check, no ID to submit, and it didn't even ask me to make an account / password to reserve the place. Just an e-mail address. I finally had to set a password when I realized I made a mistake during signup.

On Airbnb, I understand there is verification of identity checks. Secondly you'd need to pay to rent an expensive place in advance (which could be done fraudently) followed by the fact that it's much harder to fence furniture relative to cars which are more uniform.

Simply put, I imagine there is more money is stealing cars.

As to "selling the house", this often requires a serious amount of paperwork and is harder to do.

There was a story a few years ago about someone renting an AirBnB to run a meth lab

The cars stolen start in the mid $30k range.

Your average AirBnB probably has under $1k worth of stuff with any sort of resale value - a TV or two, maybe the smaller appliances.

You could cause plenty of monetary damage by smashing holes in the walls, but that doesn't benefit the thief much.

AirBnb's business is not the CRUD app. Craigslist has that. AirBnb's value add is the vetting of participants, reputation, dispute resolution, and payment escrow system.

Accounts that abuse houses can and do get negative reviews visible to future hosts, fines/fees from the homeowner enforced by the platform, or even banned (along with government IDs and Facebook accounts they have verified).

AirBnB does have background checks. You just don’t know about them. I had a friend with an AirBnB account cancelled a few years ago because of a 12-year-old hot check misdemeanor conviction. They provided no way to appeal, no way to even explain, just an email saying he had been cancelled because of “criminal history.”

real background checks tied to the real person. without background check, then you can't tell if someone used a stolen credit card or if it's the real person.

> But the fact that they can ease up on background checks and see an immediate large bulk of car thefts is damning evidence that the background checks were truly having a real impact on preventing theft.

No, it isn't “damning evidence”, it's at best a suggestive indication which is easily consistent with other alternatives.

In fact, there is extremely compelling evidence that the old background check policy was not what was protecting them in the article: “By midweek the company suspended service in Chicago altogether, an acknowledgment that it couldn’t figure out how to distinguish legitimate customers from the group of thieves.” The obvious first guess of how to distinguish legitimate customers from thieves would be exactly the method they had been using right before the event that has supposedly prevented similar evebts—suspend every new account that was checked until they agree to a background check and it is completed and, if the old method was really working, everything would be fine. This is so obvious that if they just threw up their hands and couldn't figure it out, it means either they didn't believe the system was doing it or they didn't believe the problem in Chicago represented a general problem that should be protected against, just a local aberration; either way, it doesn't really seem consistent with the idea that even they believe there is some widespread general problem that the background checks were preventing.


You can’t have causation without correlation.

You definitely can. A control system causes a signal to be ~constant and thus ~uncorrelated to whatever you care to name.

If a control system's output is uncorrelated with what it is controlling, then it's not really controlling it.

Also, to see a clear linear correlation, you might need to know what you're looking for. A controller output may look uncorrelated with the target system state, until you realize it's a I controller, so you need to look for correlation between controller's output and the integral of the system's state.

Let’s say there is a system that controls whether a second system receives input from random source A or random source B, and there is some difference in the distribution of values generated from each source.

Starting without knowing the relationship between the two systems, is there a good general approach that could pick out what it is doing?

Replace the system with one that chooses A only; replace it with one that chooses B only; analyze distributions; analyze original system.

Or replace A with known non-random source, and then B, and analyze.

I'm not sure what the argument is though. If something has an effect, there will be a correlation. Measuring the correlation may require modifying the system. We've known that measurement unavoidably affects the system under measurement for some time now. It's just a matter of degree.

That correlation ought to be pretty quick to spot once you remove or turn off the control system. The control system in your example sounds binary, so on / off sounds like the only input (to the control system) to correlate.

But there’d be another variable that is correlated.

>damning evidence

I don't see anything here that would exclude coincidence.

This is interesting to me because when I worked at car2go a few years ago something similar happened.

They updated the app sign-up process with a step where you had to take a photograph of your driver's license with your phone, and then take a photo of yourself (to confirm that the license you were signing up with was indeed yourself). These two photographs were not checked manually but were "analyzed" but a facial recognition thing. They did this to streamline the sign up process and get people access to the vehicles with an active membership quicker.

But, when this feature was introduced it was almost immediately abused by a network of fraudsters that had stolen driver's license and stolen credit cards. They used GIS (google image search) to find photos of similar faces to the faces that were on their stolen driver's licenses and uploaded a photo of that face with their phone.

I discovered this when tracking unusual car activity and investigating the new accounts that were driving them and seeing the weird staged headshots of US Senators and other professionally taken photographs that populate GIS results as the submitted "selfie" photo's that were supposed to confirm the new member's identity.

BTW, much like the article mentions, our European counterparts were surprised with this abuse and "hacking" of the system and said they never experienced it over there while running this feature for months before us.

It seems like the thieves were mostly targeting Mercedes and other high end cars. It seems like there is an easy solution to just rent domestic mid-size cars and/or add the extra security checks in for people who want luxury cars. Car2Go made it too easy to steal luxury cars seems more like the real issue.

Maybe, but at the other end are the bike- and scooter-share systems. I suspect the perceived cheapness of the products contributes to how many of them end up thrown off the ends of piers.

Personally, I really miss Car2Go's old SMART cars. They sucked. They sucked sooooo bad. They were terrible cars. I hated them! But they were damned easy to park, they were dead-simple to operate, and they were easy to spot on the street. I want those back, and would rather not drive a 'luxury' car where I spend the first two minutes of my rental trying to figure out how to adjust the seat and turn off the radio.

So maybe making the cars more luxurious makes them less likely to be abused.

Yeah, the Smarts were great. And you could pop the rear window open and tuck a bike in the back, with the wheel wedged under the front seat and the front fork sticking out the car. Best car for supplementing bike transit.

FWIW, Lime appears to be trying to answer my desire for tiny carshares with their 'LimePod' branded fleet of Fiat 500s in the Seattle. I haven't tried one, yet, so I don't know how well it works, or if you can wedge a bike in the back. :)

I rented one a couple weeks ago to, coincidentally, drive back to my apartment to get a replacement inner tube for a stranded bike. If there's a way to get a bike in one without damaging the seats, I couldn't figure it out.

There’s a start up called TruePic that’s building a solution to this problem. Basically their platform helps you get trusted pictures from users.


That is one of the most idiotic things I have ever seen. As a PoC, I built an Android build on my pixel which played a video to any app that requested camera (instead of actual camera content)

It works and apps cannot tell the difference

As a PotL I am wondering what does being a PoC have to do with anything?

I think you're thinking different acronyms? He meant Proof of concept?

Haha "person of colour"

What does PotL stand for in this case?

If there’s one thing enterprising thieves know how to do, it’s ruining things for honest people and why we can’t have good things.

You really have to think like a thief when you want to serve the public because the public provides a cover to the crook and if you let your guard down it’ll bite you in this day and age.

I think it's also due to having a population that has nothing to lose.

FWIW, there has never been an easier time to be alive. When you frame things like that, it really drives home how utterly unfit for modern life a person has to be to justify a life of crime in 2019. Life is always a struggle, but we’re not exactly living in a Dickens novel.

Yes and no. After all, there are millions of people in deep poverty in the US. And at least a fraction of them has serious constraints on what they can do to get out of there (for example they have family, so they can't just pack up and go to a different state to start a new life).

Student loan cannot be written down in a personal bankruptcy process.

Many people have insufficient money for medication.

... and so on, so they dip their toes into crime, just selling weed at first, or laundering money, and then naturally they either get greedy, or get pressured into taking more risk, or simply get caught. (or maybe some successfully get out.)

and then there are people fleeing from very rough places (drug cartel warzones, etc.) and they usually don't have much more than their name, so they can try to do whatever makes some money.

Do circumstances make theft right? No. Of course not. But sitting idly while people are starving is also a form of wrong, which quickly turns this into a hard pragmatic question with only grey answers.

> there are millions of people in deep poverty in the US.

Sure, but "deep poverty" today is what "middle class" life used to be for their grandparents or great-grandparents and normal student life is like for most college students. Having to cook from scratch rather than eating out every day, or maybe even only having meat a few times a week. Having to go to a laundromat rather than having your own washing machine, and riding public transit or a bike/motorbike with rudimentary knowledge on how to fix it.

These are hardships only when compared to extremely lofty standards of living - and if that makes you become a career criminal, it is hard to have sympathy.

I think this is inaccurate and you need citations to justify the idea that those in deep poverty are better off then they were 25, 50, 100 years ago.

Health outcomes, (obesity, nutrition, drug addiction ) could easily be worse.

Security outcomes, (violent crime, domestic violence, police violence) could easily be worse.

Economic outcomes (job security, lifetime earning expectations, minimum wage) could easily be worse.

Social outcomes ( close friends, community ties, connection to close family memebers) could easily be worse.

Remember that looking at averages is misleading if the distribution is changing around a constant mean.

Further, the idea that crime is an economic choice, and not a socially determined choice is highly suspect. For instance, street level drug dealers make very little money [1], the average US bank robber steals ~$4,000 [2]. Crime is rarely a "rational decision" it's made in a socially constructed context.

[1] https://www.prisonpolicy.org/scans/sp/5049.pdf [2] https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/06/11/what-you-sho...

There is no way that Health and Security outcomes are worse today than maybe 50 years ago. The crime rate has fallen dramatically since the 90s, and health outcomes are dramatically improved between advancement of medical tech and generally improved care.

Do we have an obesity problem? Sure, that's kind of a self caused issue. You could blame our food being too cheap, but the alternative is starving to death which is far less in your realm of control.

Minimum wage is at its highest in direct value, luxury goods are at their cheapest. Now instead of writing a letter or traveling significant distances, you can chat with your friends all damned day.

Is life hard and imperfect? Of course it is, but to suggest that somehow life is harder now than in the past 25 or 50 or 500 years is absolutely foolish.

So it should be easy for you to find sources.

Life Expectancy in the US is going down [1]. That's happening as many people are living longer than ever. The difference comes from plummeting life expectancies at the bottom.

Real minimum wages peaked in the 1980's [2]

Calling obesity "self caused" is unreasonable. Access to food, particularly for poor people is very different today than at any time in the past, Malnutrition is totally possible alongside sufficient caloric intake.

Why is the cost of "luxury goods" relevant to anything?

[1] https://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/21/health/us-life-expectancy...

[2] https://www.visualcapitalist.com/visualizing-real-value-u-s-...

Life expectancy in the US has dropped by about 4 months in the last 3 years. In the last 40 years it has increased over 8 years. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.LE00.IN?location...

Remember that real wage is a deflection based on cost, but the cost of living is absolutely localized whereas the minimum wage is federal unless overridden by the state. Therefore as an average that might be true, but is generally incorrect for any given actual datapoint. Just because minimum wage is garbage in Mountain View doesn't mean it's not perfectly fine in Ohio. https://saylordotorg.github.io/text_microeconomics-theory-th... https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/index/north-americ...

Obesity is absolutely self caused unless you're on a feeding tube. You can get 2400 cals a day for about $4 from McDonalds - don't even need to cook. Yes, your fresh organic vegetables that had to be trucked in from halfway across the US costs more than a bag of processed corn chips that can sit on a shelf for 2 years. You can still eat very healthy for very little money.

The cost of luxury goods is relevant because things like laptop computers, the internet, cellphones, cars, and so on are considered luxury goods. And hey, it turns out it's pretty hard to get a job if you can't email, and it's hard to be connected if you don't have a phone. You can get a functional phone for $20 and a plan for about $15 or less a month - something mind boggling compared to a few decades ago, not to mention more portable than a telegraph or a landline.

Again, you're looking at the average life expectancy, but we're talking about the poor, not everyone.

CoL in NYC/SF has almost no effect on the overall price index, it's much more representative of middle america.

Completely missed my point about someone being malnourished because they get all of their calories from Mickey D's.

You'd be surprised how many poor people continue to have low access to email and find jobs by physically walking into retail stores to apply.

To repeat back your own line, sources?

Are you making the claim the rich now live forever and the poor die much younger compared to previous years? They do still include the poor in the average.

CoL has everything to do with the poor and their quality of life. A $0.10 raise in the price of a gallon of milk has no effect on the middle class and a dramatic effect on those living in poverty.

While there are nutritional issues with McDonalds (far too much fat, not enough vegetables, too much sugar in many of their products), you probably aren't going to be malnourished if you eat their food. Chicken/Beef, bread, some starches and fats. That's not an altogether terrible diet, it certainly isn't unsalted rice for 3 meals a day.

> In 1980, the richest cohort of middle-aged American men could expect to live until about 83 and the poorest to 76. By 2010, the richest American males had gained six years in life expectancy, living to 89 on average, while life expectancy for the poorest men hadn’t improved. [1]

Regarding cost of living, the question is whether minimum wages have gone down , and the answer is yes, because cost of living has increased, they have. It's isn't just mountain view CA.

It's common knowledge that mcdonaldds cannot provide a fully nutritious diet. Take a look at Super Size Me, the book or movie. It's pretty amazing.

[1] https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/1/9/16860994/lif...

>> Having to cook from scratch rather than eating out every day, or maybe even only having meat a few times a week. Riding public transit

In another Hacker News article, these would all be things we should be striving for

Unfortunately humans care more about their relative wealth than their absolute wealth. So telling them that objectively their life isn't all that bad is not very effective when they see their neighbors having a lot more wealth.

Scarcity means that relative wealth _is_ absolute wealth because we need to compete for resources. Falling too far behind other members of society means not being able to compete for resources successfully. Focusing on relative wealth is perfectly rational.

Exactly, when prices are set by what the market will pay then being surrounded by people who are able to pay more for a product will drive that price up and out of your relative reach.

Also, never understatement status-seeking when it comes to motivations for crime, even if your current conditions would have been considered high status 100 years ago, if you are seeking social/sexual relationships you are only going to be judged by your relative status today.

This relative status-seeking is why even rich people will still risk their positions and jail over felonies that will only make them 5% richer.

Or, you know, unable to afford rent in places where there are jobs, so being forced to live in a car near the Amazon warehouse. Lofty standards indeed.

You clearly have zero understanding or empathy for what living in deep poverty actually entails.

To be fair, the poster he replied to doesn't either. The only people living in deep poverty in the US are actively avoiding the help that is available to them. It has been argued that the poor in the US have it worse than the poor in Europe, but in neither case are they are in deep poverty.

Three million people in the US were living on less than $1.90 a day in 2013, and five million on less than $4.


Extreme poverty in the US is real: https://www.al.com/news/2017/12/un_poverty_official_touring_...

I'm skeptical of the $1.90 a day number. Those people would be dead. You literally cannot buy enough food to eat with that much money. Since we generally don't see millions of people dying of starvation in the U.S., some part of the equation must be missing.

Actively avoiding? What do you mean by this?

Neither are in deep poverty? I happen to live in Hungary, and well, see for yourself:


https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/buffett/hungary/img/single/ma... (this is from Slovakia)

> Student loan cannot be written down in a personal bankruptcy process. Many people have insufficient money for medication.

Your typical street criminal isn’t sad about student loans, nor are they stealing to buy medicine. They are victims of a culture, not circumstance.

> but sitting idly while people are starving is also a form of wrong

In the United States, find me one person that has starved to death in the past year. Not only are there food stamp programs, but many churches and charities all over the country have some sort of food program. You would have to be supremely incompetent if you are literally starving to death in the United States. It’s so extremely rare as to be a news story if it happens. Poor people in the US are more likely to be obese than starving.

Culture has an enormous influence on circumstances. Naturally, a culture where people look after each other, where people are sincere and ask and receive help and make do with very little will have just few instances of those circumstances.

That's why crime is usually modelled as an infection.

> starving

I haven't said 'to death'.

I suspect your "modern life" has been quite different from other peoples'.

But wouldn't one major driver of theft be opportunity? Essentially, the relative wealth disparity between yourself and your targets, rather than your or their absolute wealth.

I would think the incentive to steal could be thought of as something like (relative reward) * (social modifier) / (probability of failure) * (consequences) or something like that.

Subjective well being is a function of how well your neighbors are doing. Most millionaires in the U.S. report that they don’t feel wealthy.

What you may be suggesting is that our policy should care less about subjective well being and more about objective well being, but this goes against the progressive milieu.

> Wealth - any income that is at least one hundred dollars more a year than the income of one's wife's sister's husband.

H. L. Mencken

Perhaps it's time to repurpose all that time set aside for classical fiction literature to pick up some contemporary non-fiction.

Something from Steven Pinker maybe?

'Things are getting better' != 'things are already great'.

But if things have been getting better for 200 years non-stop, then that supports my point (life is the easiest it's ever been, even if it's still difficult).

It sort of supports your point about life getting better, on average. It doesn't support your other point, "it really drives home how utterly unfit for modern life a person has to be to justify a life of crime in 2019". We're nowhere near the point where choosing the criminal life means one is unfit for modern society. Not only some people are still forced into it by circumstances, a lot of crime thrives in the conditions of modern society.

I'm not saying that choosing a life of criminality is evidence that someone is unfit for modern life. Instead, I'm saying that someone would have to be incredibly unfit for modern life to justify criminality by pointing to modern life being difficult (which is what the person I was responding to was saying). Those are two different arguments. I actually mostly agree with you.

I'm quite sure the Aristocrats, Nobles, Dukes of the Victorian era said the exact same things (and the monarchs before them)

An easier time than before doesn't mean a good time.

Maybe if you live in a prosperous area, but there are plenty of shitholes throughout the US where everybody is struggling and people are considered well off if they make over $30K a year.

> there has never been an easier time to be alive

This is not a fact.

The view you presented here is deeply, if unintentionally, flawed; it'd take a small essay to unpack and elaborate all the points in detail. But to sketch a tl;dr of a part of such essay:

- 'pas touched upon the amount of people in poverty; add to that mental problems, losing the IQ lottery, being born into a pathological family and a host of other concerns, and you'll see you're severely underestimating the amount of people who are forced into crime through circumstances.

- There's lots of people who for some reason don't care about such ideals as niceness, community and civilization. For those, committing a crime isn't meaningfully different than any legal activity - it just have a slightly different risk/payoff profile. If you look around carefully, get to know more people, you'll discover plenty of crime happening around you - not murder and robbery, but tax evasion, skirting environmental laws, health&safety laws, etc.

It may seem that in 2019, life of crime shouldn't be rewarded, and yet 2019 brought us a multi-billion-dollar IPO of a company whose primary business model is law-breaking at multinational scale.

It’s one of those things that you shouldn’t “say”, but everyone knows: victors write the history , then yesteryears lawbreakers become todays lawmakers. But only for the victors does this work. Everyone else rots in prison.

....criminals are not a large percentage of the population. Especially when you exclude people convicted on harmless offences such as drug possession.

It takes more than being poor and downtrodden to turn to well planned theft.

(I mean harmless in the sense that only the person using drugs has potential harm.)

People downvoting parent probably don't understand cost-benefit analysis outside of their caste

Well, the title of the submission seems to imply that if car2go simply reversed the decision on background checks then we could indeed have good things...

Yes sure, that if thievery didn’t exist and we were all honest (within accepted range), we wouldn’t need these things and more people would be served.

> Car2Go sent several workers to retrieve the vehicles, only to find that a group of thieves had claimed them as their own. Some blocked the vehicles in to prevent repossession; others threatened the company’s employees, according to someone with knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity.

How come they haven't contacted the police immediately after that?

Also, they mentioned that people sublet their cars at inflated prices. This means they don't have the most basic foreground checks in place. Here in Moscow carsharing companies have cameras in their cars and the face of the driver is compared with the photo ID they have provided. I think it also tracks unsafe behavior, like holding a phone to talk or text.

If they really relaxed their checks to the point where a single credit card was all that was needed, they brought this upon themselves.

I definitely would have said no if my boss told me to go reclaim a car from a ring of Chicago car thieves.

>> How come they haven't contacted the police immediately after that?

This happened in Chicago. Police response times are... more than a little slow.

From personal experience driving for Uber, I've noticed that facial recognition technology isn't that accurate if you're not white.

does uber use facial recognition in vehicles? can you expand on that? in my city i haven't seen any evidence of facial recognition in uber/lyft vehicles.

Probably when verifying the driver's information. Not the riders.

Don't they use Mechanical Turks as a fallback?

Why should the police respond when you're being clearly negligent. It's not societies problem you car was stolen, it's your own stupid fault in this case.

As we learned in another thread here on HN (some photo equipment sharing site), this is a case of 'voluntary parting' in which the cars weren't necessarily stolen, they were obtained fraudulently, which apparently is a civil matter.

> Why should the police respond when you're being clearly negligent.

The purpose of the police is to maintain order and enforce personal and property rights, not to educate the population on concepts of responsibility.

>its GPS trackers can’t be physically disabled

That's just a silly statement. Anything can be physically disabled; the question is how difficult and time-consuming disabling it is. Maybe it's encased in a steel block in the engine compartment in series with vital wiring connections but even then some work with an angle-grinder and a soldering iron could get around it given a couple of hours.

Gps trackers cant penetrate a thick lead shield.

Simply shield the electronics from being able to emit. Then deal with it at a later point

You don't even need lead - just use metal (iron, steel, aluminum - anything highly conductive). Hell, I haven't tried, but I bet a small amount of aluminum foil (much less than you'd get on a single roll for a few dollars) would work. You just need a faraday cage, and GPS signals are already fairly weak.

> and GPS signals are already fairly weak

You could try stopping the GPS signal from getting in, but you could also stop the (likely) GSM signal from getting out.

It's easy to test. Wrap your cell phone in aluminum foil, then call it and see if it rings.

Sealing the edges of foil is hard. You need to get contact at least every ~1mm along a seam to stop microwave signals getting in or out reliably.

I just tried it. Just fold the edges over with your fingers and press them with your fingers. Not hard, works fine.

Illicit signal jammers that plug into the 12v car socket seem readily available if you know where to look, no modifications necessary.

[not condoning their use]

I hope the car rental companies augment their trackers to use cellular tower and WiFi access points for location. Then when they detect a jammer they can notify both the owners and the FCC.

The jammers are generally wideband and low power, so they can block GPS, cell, and WiFi all with one jammer with a range of 10 yards or so.

Shame we can’t have nice things. Car2Go operates in my city, and it’s a remarkably convenient way to get around (even moreso given that Uber/Lyft are still banned by the city council - thanks to the taxi lobby...). They’re competing with a local car-share company for market share so their rates are very low.

I do wonder what their rates of theft are here...

But you can have nice things. The whole thing looks to me like an localized, one-time incident. In my (European) city, there are multiple car sharing companies active, and it has caused me to sell my (gasoline) car and use the (electric) car sharing system.

What city is this, if I may ask? Or at least what country?

Here in Germany they are cropping up too in many cities. Mine is ~200k in size and their specially marked parking spots pop up everywhere.

We even got bike sharing now which I'm still skeptical of, seeing how it failed in many European cities so far either due to reckless vandalism or by people parking them in the most idiotic ways. The ones here at least have fixed spots where you have to pick up or return them so that should at least solve the second problem, but it also makes things a lot less flexible.

I can say that describes the situation in Vancouver (Canada) Although not sure about the taxi lobbying part - but personally I'm glad Uber is not here.


People are throwing around the terms "clever" and "enterprising" but it was just fake credit cards and joy riding.

The anonymity that these car sharing services provide is already an issue.

In my neighbourhood car2go are the most likely to be recklessly driving and harassing people in the streets. They should be tightening their policy not loosening it.

I really believe there needs to be a standard for this (if one doesn't already exist).

It probably varies from city to city, but I always assumed that the reason car-sharing drivers are worse than others on average is just because they get less practice, are more likely to have learned to drive in a different country (with different traffic rules, layout of bike lanes, etc.) and perhaps don't know their way around as well (so they're experiencing a heavier cognitive load).

You're charged per minute. It incentivizes you to drive aggressively so you pay as little as possible.

There is no reason to assume that people driving cars they don't own are as careful as driving their own cars. This makes a huge difference.

I don't know about the US, but in Germany if you return your car with scratches or dents that haven't been there before they charge you for that, so I wouldn't drive them less carefully than my own.

That's true for normal rental car companies, which are often very picky about damages. With car2go and DriveNow, they don't usually charge for damages anymore. It would be impossible to track. You're paying for the repair with the per-minute costs.

A few years ago, they even stopped asking customers at the start of the rental whether there were any “new” damages with the car, since it's impossible to verify that with dozens of damages, and people would just press “No”. So now these cars all have small damages that nobody cares about, which accumulate until they get repaired.


a) My main worry is hurting someone else; I will be responsible for this either way.

b) If I do damage the rental, chances are I'll be held accountable at the end of the rental, and chances are the repair fees will be extortionate compared to fixing my own car at a shop of my choosing.

"self-drive truck hire" is pretty much the same.

People who don't really know how to drive a truck are suddenly put in control, and lots of accidents happen...

I am pretty sure that despite TFA's claims, stolen cars were being taken to the West Side (of Chicago), not to West Chicago, which is a suburb about 30-40 miles away.

Never underestimate how much cleverer than you people will be when it comes to money. They spend their full time on figuring out how to use the system in ways you didn't expect, whereas you don't even spend full time on getting the things to work the way you barely took the time to think they would.

Secondly, take away the lesson that there's a reason that banks/stores/merchants don't lower their standards and go into certain neighborhoods, in the name of "lowering barriers to entry". (or demographics in this case) It comes with a lot of crime/fraud/loss, and unless you're actively fighting it or have figured a way around it, you will lose.

Given the scale, I would suspect a ring of professional criminals more than people with low credit scores from "bad neighborhoods".

This is Hacker News, after all. This is a system and someone hacked it.

"In several cases, hackers with lists of email addresses and passwords have written scripts to locate car-sharing accounts using those credentials. Once they find the accounts, they sign out cars and disable their GPS trackers, causing them effectively to disappear."

This does not sound like it's related to businesses going to certain neighborhoods due to demographics. It sounds like smart thieves took advantage of your biases and drove to certain neighborhoods in order to get you to suspect an Other of their crimes. That's sure what I would do

The article makes it quite clear that this was not a planned operations where 75 cars were stolen, GPS disabled, and shipped abroad or stripped for parts.

People were just refusing to give back cars, parking them inside private garages, using immobilizers, and stuff like that.


> There was little indication that the people who took the cars had more than joyriding in mind. According to police reports, all the pilfered cars had functioning GPS trackers and license plates that started with the letters AX, and many still had visible Car2Go stickers on them, so officers patrolling the area had little trouble spotting them. On a single day they arrested almost two dozen joyriders.

But later on it goes on to say:

> She adds that the other types of fraud have been rare at Car2Go and that its GPS trackers can’t be physically disabled.

Other than physically disabling or jamming the GPS what other ways of disabling it are accessible to the potential thief? And what makes Car2Go's GPS impossible to disable physically when we're talking about people with the willingness and ability to steal and strip down a car?

Or organized crime already in that community.

Sound like this was certainly an organised group and had strong local presence. But could as well be a daring youth club rather than organised crime.

How is a club of people stealing cars not "organized crime"?

It technically is "organized crime", and I'd guess legally it would be too, but it's not what people usually associate with the phrase.

Do you have any citations for what seems like an extreme claim in your second paragraph?

Credit scores? This is a fairly widely known fact that honestly shouldn’t need citations.

There’s a reason banks secure credit cards from people with no credit history. There’s a reason insurance in Florida is different than the rest of the U.S. etc

I'm generally with you until the end sentence. But, insurance in Florida is like insurance anywhere else, so not sure what you're alluding to...

I’m referring to the fact that Florida has much more expensive home insurance (and fewer home insurance companies) due to the risks associated with said region. A “neighborhood”, if you will (from the grand parent post). The insurance companies didn’t lower their standards, they offset their risks by charging more or being unavailable entirely.

Does Florida even have any non taxpayer subsidized entities offering flood insurance for homes? I thought all coastal regions were subsidized by the National Flood Insurance Program.

Ah..so I think I can answer this correctly as it's something I researched prior to moving here. So, if you are in a flood zone, you will be required to get flood insurance IF you mortgage your house, as the lender will require it. To my knowledge, it's very expensive and typically only one program exists (probably the one you are referring to).

If you do not live in a flood zone, it varies a lot. Florida requires new homes to be built to appropriate hurricane proof codes since Andrew, so newer homes insurance are about like anywhere else in the nation. Older homes are somewhat more expensive, but usually not insane.

Credit scores measure behavior, not your attributes.

The issue here was fraud. My credit score doesn’t help you assess risk if someone else is impersonating me.

Your zip code and the zip code of said transactions play a role in fraud.

Credit score likewise plays a role.

There are many many attributes taken into account when discussing fraud. Some models use methods which take in all attributes. There’s many kinds of fraud as well, some of which will be impacted by credit score (for instance if you have more credit, and use your credit card more often, you’re more likely to be a target for a “hacker”. This means fraud will be more likely to occur on your account).

For reference: I’ve built fraud detection models being used at banks.

They also don't necessarily correlate correctly with behavior. If you actively avoid debt, for instance, you are essentially penalized with regard to credit score.

That’s a feature, not a bug, the most profitable people are the ones that go into debt, never miss payments but also never pay it off.

I've read this as the explanation multiple times, but I think there's an even more obvious explanation: people that go into debt, never miss repayments, and never pay it off are more likely to continue paying their debt off on time than somebody who never takes on or retains debt.

As but one component to this a person who never takes on debt has, tautologically, managed to live a life without any need of debt. That implies he would have little difficulty continuing to live a life without access to credit. Because of this, he will generally have substantially less concern about his credit rating than a person who depends on credit for their basic livelihood.

I'm not sure that doesn't correlate.

If I avoid debt for a decade, suddenly seeking debt should be a bit of a red flag, and I should have a correspondingly low credit score.

But the problem is credit scores are used as proxies for other purposes.

Credit scores measures behaviour in the same way that financial standing measures character or skin colour tells you something useful about a person. It try's to proxy one with another and fails, because really they're two independent variables and life is complex. Someone's ability to pay down debt at any given time is not behaviour, at least it's a tenuous argument.

> Credit scores measures behaviour in the same way that... skin colour tells you something useful about a person

Yeah no.

Credit scores, being a composite set of observations of recent financial behavior, are literally the opposite of an immutable genetic characteristic fixed from birth.

Credit scores are far, far, from perfect, but if you have a better way of judging the future actions of a human than compiling a list of their recent actions do speak up.

I don't dissagree, but the nature of them being "far, far, from perfect" includes things that don't fall under the actions or behaviour of a person and end up being fixed for a period of time, making the comparison in some ways apt. Assuming you don't explore further, knowing someone's number and using it to characterize a person is at least close to as stupid as age discrimination or racial. I'd grant you that there is a higher liklihood than others that the number is informed by poor decision making, but it's equally likely that the number is low due to unforseen circumstances.

>It try's to proxy one with another and fails, because really they're two independent variables and life is complex.

The use of data from credit reporting agencies is not to predict the outcome of lending to a specific person, but to predict the outcome of many, many loans to many, many people. For which I would say it succeeds, as the entities utilizing it seem to be economically successful due to making a smaller proportion of bad bets than entities who would not, for example in the linked article.

First off, credit scores don’t necessarily correlate directly to honesty, they correlate to likelihood to pay back a debt, which could be driven by unfortunate circumstances like a sudden medical expense or loss of a job. Someone who is hit by a car and spends six months in the hospital may have a crap credit score and still be an honest person.

Second, the whole concept of “bad neighborhoods” where people aren’t trustworthy is partly a racist trope (there are good and bad people everywhere), and partly the result of generations of well-documented racist policies by the government and banks that prevented those areas from being developed.

Third, nobody said the cars were getting stolen from “bad neighborhoods”. What the article says is that the vehicles were being driven to an area just outside of the Car2Go coverage area and dumped there.

> the whole concept of “bad neighborhoods” where people aren’t trustworthy is partly a racist trope

The concept of a "bad neighborhood" comes from crime statistics, not racist tropes. Either crime (theft, robbery, fraud, et all) is high, or it is not high, race be damned. Subscribers to a particular political ideology need to calm down with the whole "your facts/science are racist" bit, because it hurts everyone overall in the long run.

The level of crime in an area correlates far more closely to poverty than race, so suggesting a bad neighbourhood is bad because of the race of people who live there rather than other factors probably is racist.

True but the first poster to mention race was the one bringing up the issue of racism.

Given the extremely high correlation of crime to race, that seems unlikely. https://www.quora.com/Are-crime-rates-correlated-with-ethnic...

Given the extremely high correlation of crime to race, that seems unlikely.

Ouch man, you're not even going to try to dog whistle?

From your link:

As of 2003 West Virginia Blacks accounted for just 3.2% of the total population and 34.9% of the total prison population.

Simply translated: White areas are safer areas. That is an irrefutable fact. The poverty argument, or excuse more accurately, can be torn to shreds time-after-time.

There are so many conclusions being jumped to there that you've probably worn the mat out already. All of that racist bullshit completely ignores the disparities in enforcement, prosecution, and sentencing. As an added bonus it completely misinterprets how the FBI categories race. But hey, maybe you can get a good deal on a dog whistle for Prime Day.

Systemic racism -> poverty -> crime. It's not complicated -- your facts are racist because they're facts about a racist system.

> the whole concept of “bad neighborhoods” where people aren’t trustworthy is partly a racist trope

There are plenty of "bad neighbourhoods" with white people and every nationality. These same bad neighbourhoods exist in UK, Canada, across Asia and Latin America, etc. It's quite rare to find any large urban area without one. It's a human problem not a race one and it's hardly a trope. It's very much real.

The crime statistics in the neighborhoods should suffice. One thing I periodically see on HN is how companies are discriminating against (group here) because they aren't operating in high-crime neighborhoods. Obviously, a company maximizing revenues and minimizing liabilities will avoid such areas. So will most individuals delivering to them that don't want to get robbed (most likely), raped, or killed. They're more interested in playing it safe given there's piles of folks out to get them and alternatives with fewer risks.

Funniest thing: most folks griping about this try to avoid the same areas and aren't volunteering to deliver high-value goods to them to address any perceived gaps. That's because they think the same things as or aren't much more inclusive than the people they're griping about. Virtue signaling and slacktivism over real activism for the groups they supposedly want to help every day.

Homelessness might evaporate over night if just a small fraction of home dwellers opened their doors to those in need; but there's good reason why doing so is prohibitively untenable, and the solutions are more complicated than simply making a bed or couch available.

I don't think it's fair to claim that that who don't volunteer are virtue signaling slacktivists; they may simply believe the solutions must come from larger institutions than individual action.

> That's because they think the same things

It’s mostly because this type of worldview filters everything through the lens of power and when viewed through this context the way to ‘fix’ it is by tipping the scales culturally by not acknowledging the things that may cause a stigma and prevent ‘access’ to resources and jobs.

So it’s probably less about what they believe to be true vs they think it’s not helpful to say it out loud.

I'm still waiting for the startup that solves the burning problem of a lack of healthy food options in poor minority neighborhoods. A twice weekly food truck that offered fresh healthy produce and meats at reasonable prices would greatly improve health and well-being in those areas.

Aren't you worried that such a startup will run up against the same systemic biases that have been preventing poor minority neighborhoods from accessing healthy food at reasonable prices for decades?

In other words, food truck entrepreneurs have been around for decades, so why doesn't the service you imagine exist yet? Because so far no one with the right motivation, i.e., no one with their heart in the right place, has tried what you imagine?

Poor neighbourhoods with immigrants have plenty of cheap healthy food in America. Those areas that’s don’t lack it because there’s no demand for it.

> The Geography of Poverty and Nutrition: Food Deserts and Food Choices Across the United States

> We study the causes of “nutritional inequality”: why the wealthy tend to eat more healthfully than the poor in the U.S. Using two event study designs exploiting entry of new supermarkets and households’ moves to healthier neighborhoods, we reject that neighborhood environments have economically meaningful effects on healthy eating. Using a structural demand model, we find that exposing low-income households to the same food availability and prices experienced by high-income households would reduce nutritional inequality by only 9%, while the remaining 91% is driven by differences in demand. In turn, these income-related demand differences are partially explained by education, nutrition knowledge, and regional preferences. These findings contrast with discussions of nutritional inequality that emphasize supply-side issues such as food deserts.



I haven't noticed an overwhelming systemic bias in the startup community, have you? Why wouldn't it work? Are you saying VCs won't invest in such an obviously worthy cause because they are racially or class biased?

Are you saying that the demand just doesn't exist? That people in food deserts just want to be unhealthy because of some unspecified and perhaps unknowable reasons? I don't get it.

If it were as easy as bootstrapping a retail food business by buying or renting a few food trucks, someone would've done it already. Food trucks are not exactly new.

(The reason for my earlier mention of bias is because those that haven't understood that usually believe the obstacle to be systemic bias.)

Like barry-cotter said, it's mostly lack of demand. People just eat unhealthy as hell. I know what you're talking about, though, with lots of places having just dollar stores or other mini-markets without a section for fresh produce. The only one I've seen doing otherwise here in Mid-South was Aldi in event there wasn't a Walmart. I like the idea of a produce truck or food truck that also has produce. It's worth trying to see what happens.

Here's your main issues in those "poor minority neighborhoods" which, having grown up and lived in them, I consider neighborhoods with very low profit, lots of theft, and a high amount of rape/murder:

1. Even they have been trained to be picky about their produce. Unless it's food bank, there's going to be spoilage from them ignoring some percentage of the produce that doesn't meet their standards. The profits of the operation must cover those costs on top of things like the truck and person's paycheck.

2. Like ice cream trucks, the truck will need to be refrigerated to reduce that. Produce is normally stored close to 40 degrees in grocery coolers. I don't know how much this adds to the cost of a truck.

(Note: Both of these issues might be addressed by having people order stuff like Instacart, they go pick good ones at a warehouse with maybe some extra cases of fast movers, and there's a limited window of delivery time in each area.)

3. The big one: the driver might get jacked with the money taken or the vehicle might get stolen/vandalized. The odds go up with the number of gangs present. The local Piggly Wiggly's and Kroger's that closed in Memphis had so much theft that security guards couldn't keep up with it. One had six. I was told some were paying for extra insurance for employees' cars that were stolen or vandalized. Then, there was gang violence with 10-20 on 1 attacks on employees that came out of nowhere. Although pretty common, I've only seen two put on YouTube. (NSFW) Here's an example of what they might face which they won't in any other type of neighborhood (poor or otherwise):


It stems from a mindset where it's considered fun. I don't know why there's all this speculation about environments causing it given any of them will tell you they just enjoy dominating other people. Example from that or another attack:


So, the person running the food truck was to take on all this risk to their physical and mental health to serve folks in these communities making about no money. Most people who talk about these issues don't volunteer to do that. They usually aren't volunteering even at local food banks or donating fresh produce to them. Yet, they expect businesses to operate nearly at a loss when they can make a profit elsewhere. They also expect other people to take on enormous stress and risk their money/lives to serve people in areas with high theft and violence. I don't think it's a reasonable expectation. Given the theft and attacks like the vid, I don't think avoiding those areas is some kind of discrimination. Self-preservation and maximizing personal happiness/profit will lead to same decision for most folks. That includes minority members that usually move out of the same areas the second their finances or college situation allows.

I expect those communities to do more to get that stuff in check to lower the risk of people supplying them. Responsible folks, cool folks, rebels... all of them should take a stand against thug culture with no apologies for their unnecessary love of violence, esp against locals. Gotta pull them in other directions where they can feel like they're being rebellious or bad without that level of damage being done. Once crime goes down, you'll see more kind, but risk-adverse, folks accept low profit to invest in those areas and help them out. An example of people doing that, even more given the crime, are the Stepherson brothers (Superlo Foods) that took over some areas Piggly Wiggly and Kroger left. Walmart also operates near lots of poor neighborhoods.


It was also interesting bias that so much media reported the companies "creating food deserts" in Memphis with barely any treatment of the white family that eliminated several of them. Also, (IIRC) none of the well-off minority members invested in a coop, franchise, non-profit store, etc to serve the areas they came out of. Piles of minority members shop at Costco, Whole Foods, high-end department stores, jewelry stores, etc. Zero coverage of or blame for their apathy in the news. So, I call political posturing (i.e. BS) on all that while pointing out the tiny few that are actually doing something about these problems.


I’ve thought about this a bit recently and I wonder how much it’s actually “poor people” who are the target of this prejudice and “brown people” just get tarred with that brush. Nobody thinks rich brown people are automatically criminals.

Nobody thinks rich brown people are automatically criminals.

Really? You’ve never heard of racial profiling?



The parent's theory would conclude that the police were using race as a proxy for being rich or poor, not as an end in itself. I guess you could test it by putting everybody's credit score on their license plate. Yikes, what a nightmare.

Precisely. I suspect the chain of inference is much more like "black -> poor -> bad" than directly "black -> bad". I mean, neither is fair but understanding the process is crucial to fixing it.

Anecdotally I’ve had the inverse, pulled over in a lower-income black neighborhood because a patrolling officer thought I must’ve been there to buy drugs.

I do wonder how often that type of thing happens, but we simply don’t hear much of it because it isn’t widely considered as bad.

I had that happen to me when I was a student living in west philly, also once in Kensington and once in Camden. The later two are/were particularly notorious, though my neighborhood in west philly wasn't very nice either.

I've heard mixed reports of cops in Camden, but the cops I've encountered in Philly all seemed genuinely concerned with protecting the law abiding residents from crime and are pretty good at getting to know the people living in a neighborhood. After we met the first time, the cop in west philly who cautioned me against the neighborhood remembered me for the remaining years I lived here and on one occasion when I was particularly careless probably saved my ass.

I don't think that article is giving you a balanced overview of the situation in Philadelphia. Specifically it says nothing of Major Nutter at all and the work he and the Philadelphia police did to clean up the city and make it safer for all law abiding residents, young black men in particular who Nutter recognized as being particularly at risk for becoming victims of crime. From what I saw, Nutter was a good man motivated by compassion for the people of Philadelphia, and being that good man meant that sometimes you had to break some hard truths to people. And sometimes that made Nutter unpopular, but from what I've personally observed in the city, he was doing a lot of good. Nutter didn't have police go into black neighborhoods to hassle them for sport; he did it because the crime in those communities harms the common people a hell of a lot more than an active and attentive police presence.

Do police in Philly pull over black people 3x as often? Probably. Are there 3x as many police officers in black neighborhoods in Philly? From what I've seen, at least that many. And why? Because that's where the victims of crime are at.

(Note that under Nutter's (white male) successor, Jim Kenney, crime is up again (351 homicides in 2018, compared to 246 five years earlier.) That guy is a bumbling idiot with his head in he clouds as far as I'm concerned. Might I suggest that to Nutter, the concerns of the black community are personal, while to Kenney they are academic? That Nutty was motivated to actually make a difference, while Kenney seems to be motivated by maintaining the appearance of doing something, rather than actually making a difference. This is perhaps best exemplified by his ineffectual but incredibly regressive soda tax (https://www.phillymag.com/citified/2016/04/24/bernie-sanders...)

But in the other two portions of the district – including parts of West Oak Lane and Chestnut Hill, where only about half of the population is black – some eight out of 10 of all police vehicle stops target black drivers.

They aren’t just disproportionately pulling over Blacks in Black neighborhoods.

But even though 80 percent of police stops involve black drivers, white drivers are 40 percent more likely to be ticketed. Mellon points to that gap as evidence that cars with black occupants are routinely being pulled over for no reason.

Also they are using traffic stops as an excuse to invade user privacy.

> Keep your expensive stuff away from brown people

Why drag race into this? I’m sure the discussion was then same for concentrations of certain socioeconomic classes of people of any and all colors.

In defense of brown folks (whatever that means exactly, Amerindian-Caucasian / Latin American?), you get a face shot of the delivery person when using UberEats, and while anecdotal, never once had brown person steal an order. I live in the Chicago loop and have had multiple UberEats orders stolen. White folks are extremely expeditious in my experience with UberEats (speedy delivery is how you get tipped by me and I usually max it out), I've never seen a person of east Asian descent delivering.

Whenever this happens, Uber always refunds me because they track everyone and everything going on, so there's little dispute. But there's definitely not enough background checks going on there either. I've had orders picked up then taken for themselves, and orders never picked up and marked as delivered immediately.

The only way to get past it is to order during the busiest hours and hope you get one of the more professional UberEats delivery folks.

Some people think about and talk about race all day every day. Some of them are open racists and some of them aren’t.

>how much cleverer than you people will be when it comes to money. They spend their full time on figuring out how to use the system in ways you didn't expect,

Sorry, but stealing and robbing is not something clever in this case.

Unrelated to the story, but could my ISP possibly be blocking archive.is? Is this a known issue with that site?

None of the links ever work for me, but it seems that I can access it anywhere but my home network.

Using Cloudflare's DNS? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19828317

For a provider as big as, it seems like they would aggregate DNS from multiple sources to solve cases that specifically didn’t work from Not sure how things work at that level but if DNS can be broken simply because of the provider source address, it seems natural to query behind the scenes from multiple sources to cache the more correct value.

Yes I am. Thank you!


archive.is is blocked in Australia and some other countries, along with many other sites. For Australia this happened in May this year.

Most ISP's just use DNS-filtering to block it, so getting around it is as easy as changing your DNS settings.

I am in Australia and the link worked fine, so this must only be true for certain ISPs?

Are you using your isp's dns servers?

My isp's nameserver responds with "REFUSED". Quad 9 works just fine:

  $ nslookup archive.is
  ** server can't find archive.is: REFUSED
  $ nslookup archive.is
  Non-authoritative answer:
  Name: archive.is

I am amazed at the stats a bit into the article.

22.7k vehicles were stolen in 2018 in Chicago (metropolitan statistical area) alone. That seems like a huge number.

To be clear, I'm pretty sure that means 22k car thefts in general, not 22k thefts from Car2Go.

That's still astronomical.

quite possibly this change of policy was just a slick marketing gimmick by enterprising Car2Go execs with price of dozens of stolen cars factored in - certainly its publicity just got a big bump up

The article includes a graph of "Vehicle thefts in U.S. cities where Car2Go operates* in 2018" and Chicago is at the top of the list. If that was their pilot city, interesting choice. Alternatively, if they rolled out the policy change in all locations at the same time, interesting choice.

Article doesn't report problems in other cities...

How is this "sharing?" This seems like app-based short term rentals little different from what I could get from Avis and the like.

My initial thought was that this was allowing individuals to rent out their cars and my reaction was a hard 'oh hell no.' What's the term from the various "my expensive camera /lens was stolen" stories? Voluntary parting? Pretty sure that would apply to your nice car as well.

I still can't wrap my head around it why car rental companies like Hertz and Avis don't have this market completely cornered. They have the infrastructure, the assets, the know-how. Why is it still so inconvenient to get a car through them ?

In the UK, those companies all require a driving license, passport, credit card, many thousand pound deposit, credit check, 2 bank statements, and a code from the government showing driving offenses...

They then proceed to print off paper forms which they staple other forms to, scan them in, print them off again, fax them to the headquarters before emailing them as well, and print them out a third time just for luck, before finally handing out the keys to the car.

Either the whole industry is unreasonably scared of theft, or theft is an actual problem and they need to do everything that can to keep it low to stay profitable.

I can see why they haven't moved to app-based rentals. It's hard to fax handwritten sketches of your ID card via an app...

Then they only do these things when they're open (although you can return cars at all times), so too early, too late or Sundays are out.

They also only have one location in the city where you can get cars, and it's usually much further away than the closest car sharing option.

For longer trips (and one-way rentals which are great for moving city) they are still a good option, but if you need a car for an hour to get some heavy tools from the hardware store they're out.

(The other option would be to borrow a cargo bike which is free from the city, but again only when they're open and requires more travel to and from the place.)

> In the UK, those companies all require a driving license, passport, credit card, many thousand pound deposit, credit check, 2 bank statements, and a code from the government showing driving offenses...

That may just be you. It is most certainly not the case in the US.

Because their upside is in profitable up-sells like extra insurance and additional drivers, and their downside is fraudulent rentals and renters returning damaged vehicles.

Having face-to-face interactions with renters is surprisingly effective both at maximising upside and minimising downside.

OP said "why they don't have this market cornered". In other words, why is there a market existing for Car2Go to capitalize on?

The big players are apprehensive about cornering this particular market, for the reasons I stated.

Car2go started out as a joint venture of Daimler and the car rental company Europcar. Nowadays it is a joint venture only of car makers Daimler and BMW.

I actually wonder how profitable these very short term rentals are on their own. Maybe part of their profitability is long term brand development? Certainly city dwellers like me, who gets by with bicycles and public transport mainly, are exposed much more easily to the experience of driving a nice, modern BMW or Mercedes than they would without these "car sharing" offers.

Are they that hard to use? Last time I used Avis, I did the reservation on my phone, went to pick the car up, which consisted of signing some papers and then taking any car I wanted from a certain section of the parking garage.

Enterprise is just as easy and they'll even bring me the car.

Last time I rented from Avis I didn't even sign paperwork. I made the reservation, then changed it from the app on my phone in the airport before my flight. After I arrived, I went to the rental area, the app directed me to a car. I got in, and drove to the exit where I handed my driver license to an attendant who returned it with a receipt within 30 seconds and opened the gate allowing me egress. I was very pleasantly surprised at how improved the customer experience was.

Exactly! They are asleep at the wheel. German car rental company Sixt does this now.

Enterprise bought out the car share system which started in the city I live in.

It's not sharing, but the term sort of makes sense because they're competing with the actual sharing companies like uber more than they're competing with rental companies.

You can rent a car2go for an hour to do a big grocery run, that's not economical or practical with avis.

The premise I think is that you're "sharing" the ownership of the car with your neighbors and fellow users. So instead of a model where each person owns their own car, these cars are "shared" between various drivers.

Presumably there's an implied distinction between this model, where people share ownership of their primary car, and the typical rental car model, where people are presumed to be traveling or otherwise renting the car to supplement their existing car ownership.

Not saying it's some brilliant insight, but there is an internal logic to the use of the term.

Couldn't this just have been bad timing and they were targetted by organised thieves?

Reminds me of Ofo venture to Almaty. Some thief spent weeks methodically picking up every Ofo bike in the town, until the only ones left were broken or thrown into unreachable places.

Thief? Sounds like a collector.

So obviously this could be taken as an excuse to install face recognition systems in these cars to “enhance” security by forcing customers to give up privacy.

Plot twist: what if someone bribed some employees and got their help with the backend?

> They couldn't figure out which car to remotely disable.

Well - that's why then!

Sounds like someone identified an arbitrage opportunity.

They didn't flip the cars, they stole them.

According to the infographic, in Chicago in 2018 they had 22,700 vehicle thefts, which if divided by 365 days = roughly 62/day. 75 vehicles stolen in one day doesn't sound completely abnormal?

On a normal day, across all of Chicago (large place) and all the cars owned in Chicago (lots of cars) they would have an average of ~62 car thefts per day.

Then one day Car2Go, a single car sharing service has 75 vehicles stolen in one day. That is 110% the amount of the entire city of Chicago from a single company with a fleet of a few hundred cars.

Keep in mind that Chicago likely still lost their average number of cars that day, but the car2go thefts more than doubled the number of thefts for the entire city.

That sounds abnormal to me.

75 vehicles from one car-sharing service? If those cars were the only ones stolen that day then sure, crazy coincidence. I don't think that others didn't get stolen though.

Thanks! That was a total reading comprehension failure on my part.

Those 22k car thefts are all car thefts in Chicago, not just Car2Go thefts.


Please don't take HN into flamewars, and especially not racial flamewars.


What does race have to do with anything? Is this some sort of racist dog-whistle?

This is your take-away?

That is what being a racist is like.

What is yours?

Why not?

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